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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Canada

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

September 7, 2010

 

 

- Improved hitting system

- More realistic stick-play

- Ultimate Team Mode gives a taste of everything

 

 

- Player AI could still use some work

- Broken sticks happen too often

 

 

Review: NBA Jam (Wii)

Review: NHL 10 (PS3)

Review: 3-on-3 NHL Arcade (360)

 

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NHL 11

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

nhl 11          nhl 11

 

Fall brings the most important of Canadian pastimes, the frozen treat that is hockey. Besides the dreams and intensity that comes with each new season, the release of NHL 11 allows for unfulfilled hockey dreams to happen, albeit electronically. This new version brings some tweaks to the game system that we know so well – the addition of a new game mode as well as the new stick system. The primary way in which NHL 11 strives to make the franchise even more realistic is all of the little touches – from the broken sticks on slap-shots, the highlight hip

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checks, to the busted up passing plays all make it that much closer to the real thing. For those amongst us who are huge CHL fans – those minor leagues have also been included!

The new game mode introduced this season is the Hockey Ultimate Team Mode – part collecting card game and part execution, you field a hockey team through collecting your parts

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from packs of cards. Players, coaches, stadiums, and even team jerseys are available in these packs and all have an expiration date (contracts). Playing with your patchwork team – your successes will earn you the opportunity to buy more packs of cards and continue the cycle. With every player that you earn having a limited number of games, this game mode encompasses numerous aspects of the game – from being a general manager, a coach, and a captain on the ice all to the Nth degree.

The game-play upgrades are what most gamers are interested in though – let’s dive in. The hitting system has made huge strides over NHL 10. Gone are the single shoulder contact hits as the only way to hit. Hip checks that flip the opposition in the most spectacular manner and pancake strikes that level these intended targets are made more appealing by the gorgeous new animations for these actions.

The tweaks to the stick-play system have really helped add to the realism of the game - it is now possible to knock a stick out of a player’s hand, either by slashing the stick off the player or with a hit. But that’s not all! The dexterity in knocking down saucer and intercepting regular passes has increased, and sticks are now breakable! I’ve successfully broken sticks on receiving slashes as well as on cranked slapshots. New twigs can be picked up off the bench, or unbroken ones off the ice. Having broken as many as four sticks in a single game (yet having only broken a handful in real games) it still needs a little adjustment.

 

nhl 11          nhl 11


For most of the single-player enthusiasts, the change that is most important are the adjustments to the defensive AI – in NHL 10, 2 goals could be scored at will – the backdoor pass to the streaking winger when pressing in from the wing; and cutting across the slot once you pass the faceoff dots. Both of those freebee goals have been addressed – defensemen will break up the backdoor pass, and trying to cut across the slot will usually end up with you getting hit into oblivion the moment you stop going north-south and try to head east-west.

For the most part, goal scoring has become more of a chore, making the name “goal” more appropriate. That’s not to say that the AI is faultless – for some reason on winning an offensive faceoff, the puck will almost inevitably end up in the hands of the winger who will try to shoot it through 5 players and a goalie in the most pointless play in the game. I have taken to intentionally losing those face-offs just to prevent my own team from accomplishing nothing on those.

Speaking of face-offs, the new system for them has demonstrated the game within the game that face-offs can be – taking them on the forehand/backhand, going east-west with the pass, the attempted pull-back to the D, or even just tying up a quicker opponent so that someone else can grab the puck.

All in all, NHL 11 is a excellent upgrade over NHL 10 fixing a lot of those issues that we’ve had with the previous games. Perfect? No, but getting pretty darn close.

- Tazman

(November 9, 2010)

 

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